The retreats of the Syriza leadership have not forestalled German ultimatums - The solution lies in radical policies; not in diplomacy. Denounce the debt - nationalise the banks - expropriate the oligarchy!
[Statement of the Communist Tendency of SYRIZA]
Sadly, today's (February 4) events have confirmed what the Communists of SYRIZA have been warning the leadership of the party all along. Greece's "benevolent partners" have been fully exposed, as have its "malevolent partners", thus proving the nonexistent “scope for negotiations” that could lead to any substantial benefits for the Greek people.
Following the icy and ironic treatment that the Greek Prime Minister received from the supposed friend of Greece, the Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi at yesterday's meeting, the Greek Premier experienced a further two disappointments in the “negotiations”. French President Francois Hollande, requested from Alexis Tsipras that Greece "respect the rules", thus making clear France's unwillingness to play the role of Greece's ally against Germany. This was preceded by yesterday's statement by another French "friend", the Finance Minister Sapen, who had asked the Greek government not to attempt to pitch France against Germany.
The second disappointment came from the president of the European Commission Juncker, who in his meeting today with the Greek Prime Minister limited himself to diplomatic platitudes to encourage Greece to request an extension of the current programme by applying what has already been "agreed".
Even more disappointing was the outcome of talks - held on Saturday but revealed today - between the finance Minister G. Varoufakis and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) technocrat, P. Thomsen, and with the President of the European Central Bank (ECB) Mario Draghi, this morning in Frankfurt. The IMF representative made clear his unwillingness to discuss any of the Greek government's compromise proposals on the debt, and citing the IMF's mandate, he insisted on "strict compliance" with the programme.
Draghi, on his part, stressed to Varoufakis that the ECB is unable to exchange the current Greek-issued or backed bonds with those of a longer duration without Berlin's consent, thus precluding any possibility for the secured liquidity of Greek banks without a request on the part of Greece for an extension to the existing agreement with the 'Troika' (i.e. the European Commission, IMF, and ECB) after the 28 February 2015, while Draghi refused to raise the existing threshold for the issuance of Greek Treasury bills/bonds to address the stifling financial demands on the Greek state. At the time of writing the present article, the ECB, whilst keeping the pressure on the Greek government, announced its decision not to accept Greek-issued or backed bonds as collateral for the financing of Greek banks.
And then come the "icing" on the bitter cake that these negotiations constitute: the announcement by the German Ministry of Finance of a document containing the positions of the German Government in view of next week's summit meeting. This document emphasises Germany's opposition to all requests by the new Greek government, including the purely cosmetic request for the reconfiguration of the Troika. Moving towards a counter-attack position, the German government provocatively calls upon the new Greek government to abandon its entire programme, and thus cancel its commitment to increasing the minimum wage and the low pensions, to continue with the privatisations, and to respect all deadlines, thus stressing that Greece will lose all Troika-funded liquidity unless it agrees to all the above after the 28 February 2015.
All these unpleasant developments over the last few hours in the negotiations between the Greek government and the various representatives of the Troika - which, incidentally, are expected to culminate tomorrow (February 5) in a similar outcome to that of the meeting between Varoufakis and the German Finance Minister, Schaeuble -make any unacceptable retreat on the part of the Greek government ever more damaging following its earlier dignified stance at the meeting with the provocative Daiselblum last Friday. It is clear that to give up on the demand for a write-off of the greatest part of the debt, the reaffirmation of the commitment to achieve primary surpluses, the reconciliation with the current system of supervision by a handful of speculators, the indirect, albeit clear, rejection of the renationalisation of privatised formerly state-owned enterprises, and the imposition of criteria for the restoration of the minimum wage, not only have not strengthened the position of the Greek government, but, rather, have weakened it, given that these have "emboldened" the Troika, and its true boss, Germany!
Apart from retreats from key commitments and whatever negotiating "card" the Greek government believes that it may possess, its attempt to create a front with bourgeois governments to isolate Germany has entirely fallen through. Not one "friend" of Greece from the European and international bourgeois camp would want to clash with the mighty capitalist Germany, or would want to support in any meaningful way a Left Greek government whose potential success could become an example that would threaten international capitalist domination.
All this shows that the conflict with the Troika is inevitable and that allies are not to be found where the new government presently seeks them, i.e., within national bourgeois governments. The clear commitment of breaking with austerity and the rigorous implementation of the 'Thessaloniki' programme, alongside with the strong stance of the Greek government during its initial days in power, should be a clear guide for our next steps and how we conduct ourselves over the following period. The recent retreats, however, have only managed to "tarnish" the hope of the people and to sow confusion and concern amongst the working class and the poorer layers in society.
To the Greek government and our comrades in the party leadership we say the following:
- Ignore all ultimatums! Do not retreat, as this emboldens our class opponents inside and outside Greece! Stay true to our commitments! No more illusions in the power of negotiations! The solution can only be found in radical measures and in the struggle, not in diplomacy and negotiations! Our only true partners and allies are the workers across Europe and the world!
- We are now in a state of war with the Troika and capital, and we must disarm it! We must renege on the debt and thus take away any right from the Troika to blackmail us! Not even for one more day should speculators have any control over the deposits, homes and debts of the people! Nationalise the banks! Integrate these into a single state bank that will guarantee deposits and will become the headquarters for development aimed at the benefit of society.
- Institutionalise workers' control over all businesses to reveal tax fraud and all other fraud of capital!
- Take back the broadcasting companies from all Media moguls and make them available for the free use by the people and their democratic structures!
- Nationalise without compensation all enterprises that were privatised! Apply a programme of nationalisation of all large companies that refuse to implement the new labour laws and that have been abandoned by their owners in the context of their economic warfare against the government.
- No confidence in the state apparatus of cronyism, corruption and authoritarianism! Changes in ministries and persons are not sufficient! We must prevent any internal sabotage of the government! Re-found, on a democratic basis, the police and the army, removing all fascists, leave NATO, and pass all control over the armed forces to the mass organisations of the people!
- Remove from the government all potential "weak links" that are likely to retreat under pressure from capital! Remove the bourgeois nationalists of the Independent Greeks (ANEL) from government posts, as well as all those who support agreements with the Troika and Capital!
- SYRIZA to call now for a Europe-wide programme of mass action, starting with rallies in all major cities in Europe and in Greece during the days of the meetings of the EU Summit and of the Eurogroup! We should set up 'Committees of Action' against the Troika and the Greek economic oligarchy in every workplace, in every neighbourhood, and in every school and university!
- Rather than requesting a European debt conference with bourgeois governments we should hold directly in Greece an international conference of the mass organisations of the working class and of the youth against capitalism!
- No illusion in the EU and the Eurozone of the allied European capitalists! We must struggle for the United Socialist States of Europe!
(February 4, 2015)